That feeling when you dream about visiting a country for years and you finally chance to go. You arrive there and it just feels surreal and you want to document every.single.moment because you don’t ever want to forget a thing.
That was Cuba for me. I know that it is not all rainbows and unicorns there, but it has a special charm that captivated my heart. The kindness and “viva la vida” kind of attitude of its people was so refreshing. And can we talk about how visually enchanting every corner of the city is?! I could barely put my camera down.
Havana Travel Guide
Fabrica de Arte was an absolute highlight for me. It is an old factory that has been repurposed as an art complex with art exhibitions, live music, cocktail bar and a few boutiques. For an entrance fee of $2 pesos convertibles ($2 USD), we listened and danced to live Cuban jazz music by world class musicians and had a chance to look at pretty awesome paintings by up-and-coming local artists. It’s open from Thursday to Saturdays so make sure you set aside one evening to check it out!
For old school jazz music, check out La Zorra y El Cuervo. Arrive before 10pm to grab a good spot.
No trip to Cuba would be complete without Salsa dancing. Whether you can dance or not, these places is where you can witness and breathe the real Cuban spirit. We had a great time at 1830, a large open patio bar that hosts live salsa bands. On the Friday night that we went, the majority of the people there seemed to be locals, which is always a good sign. We heard they also run Salsa classes early in the evenings.
If you are an art enthusiast, the Museum of Fine Arts is a must stop. It features 3 large floors of magnificent paintings, from classic, colonial and contemporary pieces.
For a comprehensive tour of the city, I recommend trying the Hop on Hop off Bus. I’m usually not a big fan of these tour buses, but in Havana most sightseeing spots are scattered around town so you’ll save a lot of commute time.
If you happen to be in Vedado area during lunch time, I highly recommend checking out a small and understated eatery called “Las Duenas“. You can have a hearty and delicious meal for $2 pesos convertibles (around $2 USD).
Another hidden gem in Old Havana is this Italian pizza place called Venami. The pizza toppings are simple but the highlight is the perfectly thin and crunchy crust, fresh from the oven. This place makes a perfect stop for an afternoon snack between meals.
After a days in Cuba I developed a habit to drinking cortadito (Cuban expresso) every day (Ahhh I’m craving it right now while I type this!). I had very good cortaditos at Oreilly Cafe, Cafe Espada and El Dandy (all located in Old Havana)
We really enjoyed the sunset drinks at El Cocinero in Vedado. They have a nice terrace with nice views of the city. This restaurant/bar is conveniently located right next to Fabrica de Arte Cubano.
While in Old Havana, don’t miss El Floridita. Their daiquiris are expensive and it is kind of a tourist trap but I have to admit it was the tastiest daiquiri I’ve had in a long time.
Another unmissable bar is La Guarida. Located in an old and seemingly abandoned building, this restaurant/bar features a rooftop terrace with incredible 360 views of the city. Make sure you check it out – it won’t disappoint!
I highly recommend staying at a Casa Particular (Private house, or AirBnb) with local hosts. After hours of research, we opted to stay in Vedado area, a residential neighbourhood located 15min by car from Old Havana. We were lucky to find a casa run by Tamara & Gustavo. This lovely couple have the most charming house and they were so kind and helpful during our stay. We booked a room via Airbnb.
We use Airbnb to stay at cozy homes around the world! Here’s $40 USD free credit to get you started: http://bit.ly/2CiiHXx
Good to know
Bear in mind that there’s no free wifi in Cuba (which could be a blessing sometimes!). If you need to connect to the internet though, you will have to buy a prepaid card that can be used in selected areas of the city (hotels & parks mainly). Beware of people trying to sell you overpriced prepaid cards. You’ll be better off buying from authorized shops or hotels.
If you plan to venture out of Havana to Varadero, Vinales or Trinidad, plan well in advance and don’t leave it to last minute! The infrastructure, lack of wifi and the way tour agencies work in Havana don’t go well with spontaneity.
Last but not least, bring sunscreen and other essential toiletry/skincare products from home. We ran out of sunscreen and were not able to find any good ones in the city – they were either low protection or super expensive.
Cuba Outfit Ideas
Is Cuba on your travel bucket list? If so, what are you waiting for? 🙂
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